Why You Should Visit Taal Batangas

I am very much familiar with Taal because I grew up in San Nicolas, a small town next to Taal. Taal is the oldest town in Batangas. And although it is a third class municipality, your eyes and your palate could feast on the obvious traces of its rich cultural heritage and native dishes. If you have plans of visiting Batangas, I recommend that you drop by this town and enjoy not just the preserved Spanish colonial structures, but also the food, the intricate hand embroidery and the hand-crafted fan knife. Below are the reasons why you should visit Taal.

Taal is a heritage town

Take a trip down memory lane and visit the well-preserved 19th century Filipino-Spanish mansions. Although most of the mansions were massively restored, some original parts such as large capiz windows and ceilings were retained to replicate the original designs as close as possible. The owners of these mansions or the mansions themselves, played important roles in the Spanish revolution. Most of the mansions were used refuge of the soldiers and/or secret meeting places of the revolutionary leaders. forex trading in pakistan earn money

old house in Taal
old house Taal
inside old house Taal
inside Taal old house

Heal your spirits in Taal

Hear a mass on St. Martin de Tours, the largest Catholic Cathedral in the Philipines and in Far East. This stone church has a grand transept and an elegant facade. It underwent 3 renovations though. The last one was in 2011 to repaint the interior to its original trompe l’oeil ceilings and to imitate the old bell tower that was destroyed by the 1942 earthquake. how to earn bitcoin in pakistan

St. Martin de Tours

Have a pilgrimage in Our Lady of Caysasay Church which was situated on the same spot where its patron saint, Our Lady of Caysasay was found in 1603 by a fisherman. Our Lady of Caysasay is known to be miraculous. It had its first apparition in 1611. An arch was constructed over the well in 1611 to mark its apparition. Today this well is known as Banal na Pook and the adjoining stream as Banal na Tubig, that are both believed to possesses miraculous attributes of healing up to this day.

Our Lady of Caysasay Church

Savour the Batangueño’s delights

Believe me, tapang Taal is the best tapa I’ve had. Tapang taal is a pork loin marinated in soy sauce, garlic and other secret ingredients that make it really tasty. If you love the garlicky taste, then you should try as well Taal’s longganisa. Both tapang Taal and longganisa are best paired with fried rice and kapeng barako or tsokolate made from pure cacao.

tapang Taal
longganisang Taal

The kapeng barako will surely open up your senses. Its aroma is as good as its tastes. While the thick and rich chocolate drink from tablea (chocolate balls made from pure cacao seeds) has a distinct taste that you can never find in chocolate drinks from other provinces.

Taal food

What I miss also is the tawilis, a small fish that is found only in Taal lake and Zamboanga City. I love it best when grilled then squeezed with lime juice (I’m drooling now!). And oh, don’t forget to look for bonete and tiping in local bakeries. Tiping is a very thin biscuit that tastes better when dipped in kapeng barako. You might want to taste as well the sumang malagkit, sinaing na tulingan, adobo sa dilaw and maliputo.

Taal is known for its hand embroidery

Ever heard of burdang Taal? Taal is also known for its most intricate embossed hand embroidery. It is found in the craft stores on the street just accross the St. Martin de Tours . You can see the burdang Taal designs not just on barong and saya but also on tablecloths, table napkins, pillow cases and bed covers. Would you believe that I know how to do this? My grandmother taught me. I helped her embroider tablecloths in exchange for my baon in school. bitcoin earning in pakistan

Taal embroidery

Taal produces the best Balisong

As they say, “Ala eh, wag kang loloko-loko sa Batangueño kung ayaw mong mabalisong” (don’t mess around a Batangueño if you don’t want to be stabbed with a fan knife). This doesn’t hold true though because Batangueños are very friendly and peace-loving people. But because Taal, specifically Barangay Blisong, produces the best Balisong or fan knife, it was associated with Batangueños.

Taal balisongImage courtesy of Ona’s Batangas Blades

Balisong is Taal’s pride. It is one of the best souvenirs you can get before leaving Taal. The blades are usually made from old ball bearings, hammered and sharpened. The handles on the other hand, can be made of wood, bone, or deer and carabao horns which are hand-crafted to perfection. The shapes and sizes of Balisong varies. It can be as small as a key chain or as big as the one below, hehe. But the most popular locally is the veinte-nueve which is 29 centimeters long.

Ona balisong

Visit Taal. Travel through time. Savour the Taal’s culinary delights. Then take home balisong and burdang Taal as pasalubongs.

When in Rome… With Kids Under 10

A city break might not be your first consideration for a family holiday, but with cheap flights and a short journey time, Rome is the ideal destination for a long weekend or a full-blown family getaway.

Colosseum Rome Italy

Italians are by nature, friendly and family-oriented, so unlike some cities, you and your little ones will be warmly welcomed here.

There are thousands of things to see and do but here’s just ten things that you and your under 10’s will love:

  1. Campo de’ Fiori

The bustling Campo de’ Fiori market makes a great introduction to the Italian way of life and is the perfect place to pick up some provisions for your days out in Rome.

  1. Bocca della Verità, or ‘The Mouth of Truth’

Getting the kids excited about historic buildings is easy in Rome. Beside one of the city’s “most beautiful medieval churches”, rests the legendary ‘Mouth of Truth’; a marble face which, should you put your hand into its mouth and tell a lie, will be bitten off.

It’s like a Roman lie detector. What would you like your kids to confess?!

  1. Renting bikes at Borghese Gardens

The Borghese Gardens are vast and contain among other things, fountains, secret gardens, an aviary, a museum and even a zoo! Pack a picnic, rent a family sized bike and head off exploring together.

  1. The Colosseum

No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the infamous Colosseum. For kids who love Horrible Histories, it’s the perfect place to pass an afternoon.

  1. Pizza School

Why buy dinner when you can get the kids to make it?

This cookery workshop is perfect for 5-10 year olds. While they learn to make pizza and be entertained, you get to relax over nibbles and fizz. Everyone’s a winner!

  1. The Museo di Bambini

At most museums, kids aren’t allowed to touch stuff but at the Museo di Bambini it’s positively encouraged. Little ones can go wild and touch, lift, move, play and interact with just about everything.

  1. The Piazza Navona

Rome is not short of places to take a breather and people watch, but the Piazza Navona is one of the best.

You’ll find loads of cafés to grab a snack and while you eat, the whole family will be entertained by the colourful musicians, artists and craft sellers on show here.

  1. Bartolucci’s Toy Store

Every child should go home from their holiday with a souvenir and when in Rome, that souvenir should come from Bartolucci’s. Everything here is hand-crafted from wood, including a certain, very special little boy called Pinocchio.

  1. Do as the Roman’s do!

There are so many cool and interesting places to visit in Rome that you could spend your entire holiday literally going straight from one place to another. But when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do and just go for a walk.

You’ll discover hidden gems of your own when you just ditch the itinerary and go on a family adventure on foot.

10. The Trevi Fountain

This should be the last thing you do before you leave the city. It’s said that if you want to return to Rome, you should toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the Trevi, one of the most famous fountains in the world, and make a wish.

But – prepare to hear a wish for ice-cream. Delicious gelati shops are very nearby.

To find more family-friendly holiday advice and cheap flight deals to Rome or anywhere else in Europe, check out the latest offerings from low-cost flight operator, Blue Air.

Planning a Fun-Filled Holiday with the Family – Six Helpful Travel Tips

Chances are your family’s really looking forward to your next holiday, perhaps somewhere domestically that entails a short drive to the nearest beach, or perhaps an overseas destination, maybe one to which you’ve been BC – Before Children – and would love to share with your family now that the kids are old enough to enjoy overseas travel.

fun filled holiday

Family holidays should be fun-filled holidays on which the whole family has a blast and returns home with happy memories that serve them well for many years to come. However, the best family holidays are those that are planned and executed to a tee, which often entails quite a bit of homework for mum and dad, though if the kids are old enough there’s no reason why they can’t also contribute.

Here are a few tips to consider when planning your next holiday.

1. Research destinations with regard to child-friendliness

How ‘child-friendly’ a destination is really depends on your kids, their travelling experiences, their ages and their temperament, and is often the case with online reviews of destinations with regard to how child-friendly they are, what one family finds heavenly another finds just the opposite.

Seaside resorts are notably child-friendly destinations, though what if you wanted to experience a particular city or region? There are a number of considerations to take into account here, notably the ease in which you can catch public transportation, food options for the kids, and of course places of interest that actually interest children.

2. Involve the whole family … within reason

It’s a wonderful thing to get the whole family involved and have everyone pick an activity that the whole family will participate in, but are your kids actually old enough to do so?

In the process of trying to be ‘democratic’ and let everyone have their say, involving the children in the decision process often turns out to be a disaster, so sometimes mum and dad have to research and choose activities themselves; after all, mum and dad know best – don’t they?

3. Consider travelling times and your children’s ability to travel

Some kids take to travelling like angels whilst others can’t handle an hour in the car or on the bus without voicing their complaints in a manner that no one can ignore.

This issue is of particular note if you’re flying to your destination or planning a road trip, so consider travelling times and your children’s ability to travel when planning your next family holiday.

4. Source child-friendly accommodation

For most families, child-friendly accommodation equates to there being a pool at the hotel, that’s it!

If that’s all it takes to keep your kids happy it’s certainly worth paying a little extra, plus you’ll probably really enjoy the opportunity to cool off or relax on a sunbather yourself – parents often need ‘child-friendly accommodation’ just as much as the kids!

5. Make arrangements with plenty of time to spare

If you’ve ever had your heart set on a destination, but left things too late and missed out, you’re not alone.

Making arrangements for Norfolk Island holidays well in advance is essential if you and your family are planning on travelling to the South Pacific island paradise in peak season, though even if you’re planning to travel at another time of the year, making arrangements in advance is still advisable because it increases the accommodation and flight options available to you.

6. Don’t try to fit too much in

It’s tempting to pack as much as one possibly can into their holidays, though as many have realised quite quickly, this is a big mistake, especially with young children.

Creating an itinerary that allows adequate ‘downtime’, i.e. time that doesn’t entail travelling or doing anything ‘exciting’, is advisable and this is where child-friendly accommodation, i.e. a hotel with a pool, really proves advantageous.

When travelling with kids under the age of ten, in a two week trip it’s probably a good idea to plan 2-3 days’ downtime so everyone can relax and recuperate.

Great family holidays are made in the planning and your children’s age and ability to travel comfortably should be at the forefront of your considerations when planning your next fun-filled family holiday domestically or abroad.

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